Beyond The Numbers; Taking Time To Journal God’s Work
Below is a partial quotation of a blog I wrote just a few weeks ago that was an effort to summarize our year at Eagle Heights so that we would be thankful for all that God has done in and among us.
“How are things going at Eagle Heights?” This is a question I get a lot from pastors, people who used to go to Eagle Heights and generally anyone I know who knows I am the pastor of a church called Eagle Heights. It’s mostly a chit-chat question and typically people are not looking for an in-depth answer, but I personally think it is one of the toughest questions a pastor can answer.
Why? Because often I don’t know. But before I go on and leave myself sounding as though I am completely clueless, let me explain. It is one thing to answer the question from the perspective of counting heads, dollars, baptisms and being thankful that the church hasn’t split, but it is quite another thing to think about the spiritual battle that is taking place in individuals and families and in the life of the church. It is more difficult to say that God is transforming people and sustaining people and doing things that I can’t see or won’t see for quite some time and maybe until heaven. (By the way, such is the nature of change. For some it happens in big bangs and for most of us it is a grind and for others of us it is both.) So I guess I am making an admission that there are a lot of things in the life of the people of Eagle Heights that I don’t know and can’t see, whether present or future.
I wrote those words with the intent of pointing out that just because I can’t count what God is doing does not mean He is not doing. But having thought about what God is doing since since the initial blog post, I realized that one of the reasons I am not as aware as I ought to be is because I don’t discipline myself to journal or record it.
The reality of church life is that while I may not know about all that God is doing, I probably know a lot more than most. I see and hear about God working in people who seek help for their struggling marriage before it is too late. I get emails about the Holy Spirit using sermons to change thinking and bring about obedience. I hear and see a lot, and unless I write it down I also forget a lot.
So what I have decided to do is write down everything in the life of the church that is evidence of God’s Spirit causing people to be obedient to the faith. For example, if I see unity in the church that manifests itself in deeds of love, then I am going to write it down. Whatever I see God doing, no matter how small or big, I am going to record it.
What I am hoping will happen over the course of the year as I review my observations is that I will be filled with great joy and thankfulness, having been reminded that God is not leaving us to ourselves, but that He is working in and among His people for the praise of His glory. Doing this might also help to wean me off of depending on numbers as the end of my striving with all of His energy. I am not saying numbers are not important, but I am saying they don’t tell the whole story. There are just some things you can’t accurately quantify.
One last thought about how this might be helpful when I am asked by someone, “How are things at Eagle Heights?” The question won’t be as tough to answer, because having taken the time to write it down, I will know.